The Inner Silence Beneath Thought and Activity

“Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything.”

~ John Grossman
contemporary author
in the book One Square Inch of Silence

inner silence

For almost all of us, daily life’s innumerable experiences ceaselessly pull our attention out of our selves. They seduce our awareness to flow outward to sights, sounds, tastes, touch, and smells – the objects of the senses – leaving what’s within us bereft of attention.

Therefore spiritual traditions throughout the world urge countering this outward turning of attention as one of the initial and most important spiritual practices. They teach constant inner recollectedness, self-remembering, presence, divided attention, etc.

If we seek to penetrate the Mystery in which we live and move and have our Being, then we will need to penetrate this veil of attention’s outward turning.

If we do turn our attention inwards, what then do we find? A seemingly endless chattering of thoughts. Researchers suggest that the average person thinks between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. The thoughts comprise the “monkey mind” which so frustrates the new meditator. They are like a radio’s static noise which deafens us to the broadcast.

Thoughts are yet another veil which we will need to penetrate. And even if we manage only to reduce our thoughts, if we listen closely to the space between one thought and another, we can enter the doorway into the Mystery.

Having entered, what do we find then? Nothing, that is, no-thing. A vast Silence, but to call it “silence” would be to disturb its nothingness with the thought of “silence”.

The nothingness is empty of thought-forms. It is aware. Present throughout all of our lives, it is the knowing of all we have experienced in our lives, the beauty and the horror, and yet this knowing awareness remains pristine, unblemished.

This silent awareness is self-existing with an inherent sense of “I”. Some have called it the “I Am” which is the root of our experience of “I” and the ego. Others have called it Buddha mind, Christ consciousness, or Being. It is the source of authentic expression. It is you; it is I.

As we continue, the more we listen for the Silence rather than to the thoughts which arise within it, the more the Silence resounds until we come to rest in just Being “awareness”. Then naked of thought, resting in Being, nothing more is needed.

There is nothing to do, nothing to know. Nothing is a problem, for only thoughts make what is into a problem. This is the liberation which Eckhart Tolle spoke of when he noted, “Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought.”

Yes, of course doing is needed, not just being. After all, doing is an expression of Being. As our lives may become more imbued with Being, thoughts and ego remain important for functioning, but not for identity.

We need to know how to do our job, pay our taxes, care for the kids and ourselves, etc. Therefore when necessity calls, the mind/ego arises from silent awareness, and responds spontaneously and appropriately to the need of the moment. Afterwards, it subsides again into Silence, until again it is needed.

There is nothing foreign or strange about this ordinary, silent awareness. Only the veils which shroud it make it seem so. It is the home to which we all long to return. It is closer to us than our noses, for it is you and I.

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